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Scotland's obesity inequality gap widens among schoolchildren

Scotland’s obesity inequality gap widens

New National Statistics published yesterday show that Scotland’s ‘obesity inequality gap’ among schoolchildren is continuing to widen.

Updated figures in the 2018/19 Body Mass Index of Primary 1 Children in Scotland report reveal that almost a quarter – 22.4 per cent – of Primary 1 pupils in schools across Scotland are starting school at risk of overweight or obesity.

The proportion of children starting school at risk of overweight is the same as in 2001/2, but the report found that the inequality gap is growing, with the proportion at risk having increased in the most deprived areas but decreased in the least deprived.

The risk is particularly pronounced when it comes to obesity, with 13.7% at risk in areas in the most deprived fifth of Scotland; compared to 6.5% in the least deprived.

Scotland’s schools should be beacons of good food

Nearly 700,000 children attend Scotland’s public schools. Against a background of widening inequality, it’s imperative that school meals play their role in making it normal, easy, and enjoyable for children to eat well.

Food for Life Scotland supports local authorities across Scotland to ensure that their primary school meals are freshly prepared and sustainable. Local authorities that hold the Food for Life Served Here award commit to serving school meals that are a majority cooked from scratch using unprocessed ingredients, with no undesirable additives or trans-fats, and making use of seasonal produce.

Every day, more than 100,000 Food for Life Served Here meals are served in schools across Scotland, with nearly 16,000 of these in the most deprived areas of the country.

Sarah Duley, Head of Food at Soil Association Scotland, said: “It’s worrying to see Scotland’s inequality gap continue to worsen when it comes to schoolchildren at risk of overweight and obesity.

“Every child in Scotland should be able to access good food in their school at lunchtime. For some, this will be their only hot meal of the day.

“We’re proud to work with local authorities across Scotland to put good food on school dinner plates, and we look forward to supporting as many as possible to serve fresh, local, sustainable meals.”